Gulf of Mexico Grouper Management

NEW: The FWC Commission approved changing the Gulf red grouper daily bag limit from 4 fish to 2 fish within the 4-grouper aggregate bag limit at the November meeting. These changes would make state regulations consistent with pending changes to Gulf federal regulations. Assuming changes are finalized in federal waters, state changes will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

Gulf Reef Fish Survey: At their June meeting, the FWC approved the creation of the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, a mandatory requirement for private recreational anglers fishing from a boat to harvest, attempt to harvest, or possess red snapper, gag, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, red grouper, black grouper, vermilion snapper, or gray triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico, excluding Monroe County. This requirement becomes mandatory April 1, 2015.

Current Gulf State Recreational Grouper Regulations

 

Gag

Black

Red, Yellowfin, Yellowmouth

Rock Hind, Red Hind 

 Scamp

Min. Size Limit

22" TL

22" TL

20" TL

None

20" TL Atlantic & Monroe County; 16" Gulf

Bag Limit

Up to 2 Gag within the 4 grouper aggregate during open season

Up to 4  per person within the 4 grouper aggregate

Up to 4  per person within the 4 grouper aggregate (see note above)

Up to 4  per person within the 4 grouper aggregate

Up to 4  per person within the 4 grouper aggregate

Open Season

July 1-Dec. 3 (excluding Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor, Jefferson and Monroe counties)

April 1-June 30 in state waters off of Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties

Monroe County managed under the Atlantic season

 

Open year-round in state waters of the Gulf.

 

Charter Captain and Crew: zero bag limit for gag, black and red grouper.

*Note: Gear rules require circle hooks and dehooking to be used in Gulf state waters reef fish fisheries. The requirement to use venting tools in state and federal waters was eliminated earlier this year. 

 

GPS Boundaries: Franklin-Taylor Regional Season

 

Location Longitude Latitude
Indian Pass 85 degrees 13.76 minutes west 29 degrees 40.71 minutes north
Offshore Indian Pass 85 degrees 13.71 minutes west 29 degrees 30.32 minutes north
Offshore Steinhatchee 83 degrees 34.52 minutes west 29 degrees 31.62 minutes north
Steinhatchee River 83 degrees 24.53 minutes west 29 degrees 40.03 minutes north

 

 

 Gag Big Map Lat Long.

Anglers targeting gag grouper in state waters in Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties can keep their bag limit from April 1 through June 30. This opening also includes all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County, and all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County. The shaded areas represent what will be open to recreational gag grouper harvest between April 1 and June 30

Gag two mile Western Boundary

Pictured above is the western boundary of the April 1-June 30 gag grouper recreational harvest.

gag two mile Eastern Boundary

Pictured above is the eastern boundary of the April 1-June 30 gag grouper recreational harvest season.

For more information:


Gag Grouper Management History:

  • 2009 - Stock assessment update indicates Gulf of Mexico gag grouper are overfished and undergoing overfishing, which means more fish are being removed from the water and there are not enough fish in the water for populations to remain sustainable.
  • In response, NOAA Fisheries Service prohibits the recreational harvest of gag grouper in Gulf of Mexico federal waters from January 1 through May 31, 2011, as part of an interim rule.
  • Feb. 2011 - Federal closure is extended through the end of 2011 with the exception of a Sept. 16 through Nov. 15 recreational open season.
  • April 2011 - FWC Commissioners decide to close state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, excluding Monroe County, to the recreational harvest of gag grouper from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2011, with the exception of a fall harvest season Sept. 16 through Nov. 15, 2011.
  • Aug. 2011 - Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) takes final action to set long-term management measures for gag grouper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These measures include:
    • Set the recreational gag grouper harvest season to July 1 through Oct. 31 for Gulf federal waters
    • Reduce the commercial gag grouper size limit from 24" to 22" total length (TL)
  • Nov. 2011 - NOAA Fisheries extends the federal closure through June 2, 2012.
  • Nov. 2011 - FWC Commissioners continue the gag grouper closure in state waters through January 31, 2012. The fishery closes annually during February and March.
  • Feb. 2012 - FWC Commissioners adopt new management measures for Gulf of Mexico gag grouper including setting the recreational open season from July 1 through Oct. 31 and lowering the minimum commercial size limit from 24 inches to 22 inches total length. The Commission also votes to approve an April 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012, gag grouper harvest season for state waters off Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties, including Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass. This area of state waters will be closed to recreational gag grouper harvest for the remainder of the year.
  • Dec. 2012 - FWC Commissioners approve a draft rule with proposed 2013 Gulf of Mexico gag grouper recreational seasons for state waters. Proposed seasons include a season that starts July 1 for most state waters and ends when the federal season is projected to end. The federal season end will be finalized in Spring 2013, and will end with the annual catch target is projected to be met (sometime in mid-November/early December). State waters off the counties of Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin will be excluded from this opening. Instead, this four county region will open April 1 through June 30.
  • Feb. 2013 - FWC Commissioners set the 2013 Gulf of Mexico gag grouper recreational seasons for state waters to be open from July 1 through Dec. 3. State waters off the counties of Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin are excluded from this opening. Instead, this four county region will open April 1 through June 30.
  • Feb. 2014 - The FWC Commission eliminated the Feb. 1 through March 31 grouper closure for black, red, yellowfin, yellowmouth, red hind, rock hind and scamp in state waters at the Sept. 2013 Commission meeting. Monroe County grouper are not included as they are managed under Atlantic regulations in state waters.
  • Jan. 2014 - The FWC Commission eliminated the requirement to have and use venting tools when targeting Gulf of Mexico reef fish effective Jan. 24.  

For more information:









FWC Facts:
The FWC’s Angler Tag Return Hotline, 800-367-4461, collects data regarding tagged fish that anglers have captured or sighted in Florida waters.

Learn More at AskFWC